As a bit of fun we also throw in a few questions to see if you can guess the age, region, distillery, ABV and cost. To get these correct is astonishingly difficult but then it makes it even sweeter when you get some of these points right.
Expression: 10 year old
This is very pale in the glass, definitely a natural colour, NCF (non chill filtered). Short legs. The nose is floral, grassy with sharp green apples. Hint of sawdust and synthetic pear drops. Sweet.
The mouth feel is very soft. Initial hit of pepper and spiced oak that evolves into apples, vanilla and sharp barley. The finish has a peppery bite with more barley and is fairly short.
A pleasant drop and a good example of a Highland single malt. It is well made and good value for money.
Rated 95 by Jim Murray in the 2015 Whisky Bible.
Expression: Connoisseurs Choice 14 yr old
Distilled 1999, bottled 2013.
This particular expression from Strathmill Distillery was matured in 1st fill ex bourbon barrels. It was independently bottle by G&M (Gordon & MacPhail). Straw gold in the glass, NCF. The nose is sweet vanilla, almonds with hints of lemon and subtle cinnamon. The palate is peppery initially with lime and milk chocolate flavours followed by stewed plums and oak.
The finish is short - medium and I think the nose is the best element and over sells the flavour slightly .
Rated 94.5 by Jim Murray in the 2015 Whisky Bible.
Expression: Connoisseurs Choice 13 year old
Distilled 2000, bottled 2013.
Macduff distillery was established in the early 1960's by a consortium of Glasgow based whisky brokers and businessmen. The official bottling’s are branded as “Glen Deveron”.
This particular expression from Macduff Distillery was matured in Refill sherry hogsheads. Golden straw in colour this is NCF. The nose is sweet peach and pear with vanilla. Slight hint of rubber and toasted nuts. The palate has a hint of sherry, sweet vanilla, apples, peppered oak bite (not bitter) with barley present throughout.
The finish is medium and has a spiced and slightly drying note. Very drinkable and good value.
Rated 95.5 by Jim Murray in the 2015 Whisky Bible.
Expression: 20 year old
Distilled 1994, bottled 2014.
Founded 1897. Mothballed 1985 – 1989. Malts from this distillery are rarely bottled as they are used primarily in blends. The first official bottling was launched 2000 and this bottle is a semi-official (distillery label) release by Gordon & MacPhail.
This is the darkest in colour of the 4. Colour is amber and the nose is big. Dark fruits, heavy with fudge and caramel. Very malty with a sherry undertone. Vanilla is there too.
Mouth feel is soft and sweet. White pepper, sweet oak, sherry with a hint of smoke. Malty and delicious.
The finish is medium with a soft and sweet peppery finish. Very drinkable and the most complex of the night. This is the most accomplished of the 4 bottles.
Rated 96.5 by Jim Murray in the 2015 Whisky Bible.
1st Glentauchers 20 Yr - Bottle 4
2nd MacDuff 13 yr - Bottle 3
3rd Glencadam 10 yr - Bottle 1
4th Strathmill 14 - Bottle 2
In terms of value for money the MacDuff is 25% less expensive that the Glentauchers so I would suggest they are neck and neck.
As expected these are hard to find and fairly obscure bottles so guessing the distillery was always going to be near-impossible. However, the group did well and nailed the ABV of each and did really well guessing the regions and prices.